How You Funded Some of the World's Greatest Technologies, Including Fruit Ninja

By Jordan Robertson - 2014-04-01T16:13:22Z

Courtesy Intuitive Surgical, Inc.

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Telepresence Surgery

DARPA, which helped bring us stealth fighter jets and attack drones, is also trying to find new ways to keep people alive. In the 1980s, the agency-funded research into remote surgery for battlefield triage at SRI International led to advancements in telepresence. 

That technology inspired the creation of the minimally invasive robot-assisted surgery system offered by Intuitive Surgical. The company's robots, which cost $1.5 million each, were used in more than 523,000 procedures worldwide in 2013. However, Intuitive faced questions last year about the safety of its robots and the company's marketing and training practices.

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